This post is about an art, history, architecture and landscape tour of Green-Wood, the National Historic Landmark in Brooklyn on Monday, July 29th at 10am. The cost of the private tour will be $32.50. per person and will take approximately two hours, until noon. Many, many thanks to MWC member and art conservator, Michelle Gewirtz, for organizing this event. Depending on interest-level and schedules, prior to the tour a group may go to the Green-Wood exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York.
NEW YORK’S VERY OWN: Paris has Pere Lachaise, London has Highgate, and … New York has the equally historic and breathtakingly beautiful Green-Wood. If you haven’t guessed it by now, yes, these are all historic cemeteries. Your second thought might be … why in the world would we go to a cemetery? The reasons are legion and have more to do with stunning bygone art, stepping back into an amazing – but still current – NYC artifact, and grabbing an opportunity to see perfectly detailed Gothic Revival architecture up-close and in an intimate scale. Not surprisingly, Green-Wood is a National Historic Landmark.
Opened within a year of each other, Green-Wood (1838) and Highgate (1839) were both products of their time and the thriving metropolises they served. Leave it to those incredibly forward-thinking and industrious Victorians (not just in England) who seemed up to the task of grappling with the astonishing changes of their age. And perhaps the biggest change to be reckoned with – in all aspects of urban life – was population growth. In just over a generation’s time, the population of New York City quadrupled from 1830 to 1860; London, the world’s capital for that time and already well-developed by 1830, grew 70 percent in the same period. So, the combination of a population which could no longer be “accommodated” in Church graveyards, a newfound awareness of public health and sanitation (particularly after the first epidemic of the industrial age – the Cholera Epidemic of 1832) and also a growing secularism – all led to the creation of then-modern “rural” cemeteries.
In early nineteenth-Century New York it was exactly this confluence of circumstances which led to the creation of Green-Wood, in a then-rural precinct of Brooklyn called Greenwood Heights. New York at that time was exploding in size and influence and the prosperous New Yorkers of that period were eager to have a place where suitable monuments to their lives could be created. Or, as architectural critic Paul Goldberger said, “…it is the ambition of the New Yorker to live on Fifth Avenue, to take his airings in the Park, and to sleep with his fathers in Green-Wood.” The result was extraordinary art, almost 500 acres of magnificent, naturalistic first-generation American landscaping and architectural monuments among that era’s very best.
By 1860, Green-Wood was neck-and-neck with Niagara Falls as the country’s most popular tourist destination, attracting over 500,000 visitors a year. As befitting its status for prominent New Yorkers, in 1910 its chapel was designed by no less an architectural firm than Warren & Wetmore, the partners responsible for Grand Central Terminal and the New York Yacht Club. Green-Wood was and is the resting place for a historic “Who’s Who” of New Yorkers, including: Theodore Roosevelt Sr. (father of Teddy), the Tammany scoundrel William “Boss” Tweed, Charles Ebbets (owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers and their playing field, Ebbets Field), DeWitt Clinton (Governor of New York responsible for the building of the transformational Erie Canal), the famed glass artist Louis Comfort Tiffany, the renowned and scandal-ridden Brooklyn Heights preacher Henry Ward Beecher (and brother of Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe), musical wunderkind, composer and New York Philharmonic conductor Leonard Bernstein and the social commentator / Expressivist artist, Jean Michel Basquiat. The list goes on and on …. there will never be more famous New Yorkers in one place. In recognition of Green-Wood’s 175th Anniversary, The Museum of the City of New York is currently hosting an exhibition about this landmark tracing its role in New York’s and the country’s social and artistic history.
DETAILS: All members will receive a reservation/ payment link in a separate email along with meet-up and transportation details.